Seattle Seahawks rookie running back Kenneth Walker has an opportunity in front of him this weekend. Starting running back Rashaad Penny is dealing with a groin injury, and it may hold him out of Seattle's first preseason game against the Pittsburgh Steelers on Saturday. If so, it will be the Walker show.
The No. 41 overall pick in the 2022 NFL Draft out of Michigan State has surprised Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll with how well-rounded he is. Walker was considered to be one of the best running backs in this draft class, but it sounds like he's doing the small things to grab the attention of his new coaches.
"You asked about surprises," Carroll said, via The Seattle Times. "I'm surprised he's so well-rounded. A runner, he's blocking, again, I think I mentioned it the other day, but his pass-protection stuff, he just turned the page. I mean he was not very good in college as a pass protector, and we didn't know. But (running back coach) Chad's (Morton) done a great job with him and (assistant running backs coach) Amanda (Ruller), they've worked really hard with him, so it's important.
"But I think for this kid, everything is important. He wants to be great, and he's not going to let any stone be unturned. So, I'm really excited to see how he goes. He's going to get some good playing time in this game and get him comfortable with the speed of the game and all of that. I expect him to do well."
Walker rushed for a whopping 1,636 yards and 18 touchdowns in 2021, while averaging 6.2 yards per carry. It earned him the Doak Walker Award -- which is given to the top running back in college football each year.
Penny will likely be the top back to begin the 2022 season, but the former first-round pick has struggled with injuries since he entered the league in 2018, playing in just 37 of 65 possible games. He's flashed at times for coach Carroll, but they say availability is the best ability, and Penny is on a one-year deal.
Saturday will be Walker's first opportunity to show the Seahawks, the fans and the NFL world what he's capable of, and Carroll is among those excited for it.